Wednesday, 18 June 2014

From thousands to millions: How to grow Mangoes for income during retirement

Let me show you how an investment of 200,000 shillings in growing mango trees today on one hectare of land, will yield you Ksh 3,918,000 in eight years.
Show me any pension plan whose returns can beat that! I bet they’re very few, or none. Yet, what I am going to show you is real, and is backed up with fact, and figures from credentialed sources.
Don’t you want such an attractive returns from a low risk, high profit investment? Right NOW, I want to show you a Step-By-Step plan on how to achieve that— from the farm you have in your village.
You don’t need to worry about having a huge piece of land. You can start growing mangoes on the land you have.
This is why...
A tree can yield up to 1,000 fruits in a year. If you sell every fruit for 17 shillings, you will earn  One tree will earn you Ksh 17,000 in a year.
If your land can accommodate 5 trees, you will earn Ksh 85,000 every year for 30 years (30 years is the life expectancy of the tree) stress free!
This money may seem little if you only have five trees, but you can increase its value by purchasing a grade cow, chicken, or buying goats that will multiply the money when they give birth.
Or you can keep money for your child in a junior savings account for his school fees.
The money becomes sweeter if you have 200,300 or even 1,000 trees!
Continue reading...  
From the desk of Haron Mogeni,
Professional horticulturist and Farm manager,
Kiambu prison farm.
Sweet mangoes
Dear farmer,
Getting high returns from your farm is a walk in the park if, you grow the right crop. This is because crops have a way of multiplying an investment by 100%, 200% or even 500% if you do the right thing, and they grow well.
Today I want to show you the shortcut to such unimaginable returns by showing you how to WORK SMART with mango trees.
But, let us start by examining why growing mangoes can increase your investment by over 517% if given time and managed well. A study conducted by a leading research institution in Kenya confirmed that mangoes are popular very fruits.
They found out over 50% of the residents of Nairobi and other towns buy mangoes when they are in season. Furthermore, the research showed mangoes are in high demand in Europe, Middle East and in the Far East.
Also, the population of Kenya is growing by 1 million every year. By the time the mangoes you grow today, will be in peak production, the country have 8 million more people who’ll need them.
However, let not the occasional glut of mangoes experienced in the market worry you. It is only temporary. This is because the demand for vegetables and fruits is rising faster than supply, while production is stagnant.
Just few years ago, we used to have a glut of avocadoes. But, nowadays we don’t have any. The fruit has become a highly sought fruit because of increased demand in Europe and other parts of the world.
The knowledge I will show you RIGHT NOW on how to grow mangoes. I will show you who the customers are, and where to find high paying customers.
You’ll get the right information that will give you confidence, and the ability to generate massive returns from your mango farming business.
Here’s what other experts are saying about mangoes.
Mango is known as a king fruit for a good reason. It has unrivalled nutritive value and offers an opportunity for household wealth creation.
Josephat Mulindo research officer KARI Perkerra
In The Organic Farmer, issue# 85 June 2012
Mango is the second most popular fruit in Kenya followed by passion.
John Muchangi, The star in The most popular fruit and vegetable unveiled 29th April 2012
Over half of Nairobi consumers purchase mangoes in a month.
Tegemeo institute of agriculture and policy analysis,
Working paper # 16
Mango (Mangifera indica L.) is one of the high potential fruits in Kenya, suitable for different agro-ecological
zones ranging from sub-humid to semi-arid. Despite the still growing economic importance of mango in Kenya,
its production potential has not yet been fully exploited.

Kehlenbeck et al,
(World Agro forestry Centre ICRAF, Tree Genetic Resources and Domestication, Nairobi, Kenya) in  Mango cultivar diversity and its potential for improving mango productivity in Kenya
The mango industry in Kenya has expanded considerably over the years, not only in size but also in geographical location of commercial and homestead plantings. As a result of this expansion, the mango fruit is becoming popular with the local population
There is a great diversity of mango fruit type which permits considerable manipulation for various purposes and markets: juice, chutney, pickles, jam/jelly, fresh fruit, canned and/dried fruit etc.
Given the multiple products, it is therefore a potential source of foreign exchange for a developing country; it is also a source of employment for a considerable seasonal labor force.
Tony Simons,PhD
Principal Tree scientist
World Agroforestry Center

Prices of fruits are increasing around Kampala due to huge demand. Many traders around city markets are experiencing a shortage of mangoes, oranges, watermelon, pineapples, passion fruit and tangerines. Mangoes are becoming scarce each new day. That has led to importation from Kenya.
Ms. Lillian Tuhaise Fruit dealer, Nakasero Market Kampala.
There are many unexploited opportunities within Africa, which should be tapped. This is not surprising when out of the total remaining global arable land about 60% is in Africa. Population is also growing at a high rate and escalating food demand.
Sammy Kariuki, Tymax Agricultural solutions
The world trade in mangoes is stable and its production is growing. Countries in which production is still growing are Kenya, Egypt, and Vietnam.

Why invest in mango trees for retirement?

The age you plan to retire at, does not matter. What counts is “Do you have sufficient cash for a better lifestyle, or enough cash to sustain the lifestyle you had before retirement.”
Prior to retirement, you would be thinking of a source of income that will support you, month after month for years without getting dry. Therefore, you’ll need an investment that will yield you money without fail.
There are hundreds or even thousands of ways of investing your money, but today I want to discuss on how growing mangoes can be the best investment ever! But let me make it more juicer. Read the report below…
Kenya Agricultural Research institute (Kari) has brought in five mango varieties from the USA. These varieties include Haden, Tommy Atkins, Van dyke, Sensation and Kent. They yield 1000 to 1200 fruits per tree.
The Standard newspaper website, 31st March 2013
Kenyan farmers earn a fortune from mango

Now the market price of one mango fruit is KSh 15. So, if you grow these trees, you expect Ksh 15,000 to 18,000 per tree! Now multiply this by 120, which is the number of trees that you can grow in a hectare. That is a turnover of Ksh 2,948,000 per year.

Qualities of a good retirement plan

Now what are the qualities of a good requirement plan? Any retirement plan should be low to medium risk so that you don’t lose your money.
However, you still want to generate enough interest from a retirement investment so that you can beat inflation, and preserve the value of your savings.
To do that you need to have a right mix of investments. You can invest in real estate, buy shares, and even join a pension scheme.
If you are looking at farming crops as a way of creating value, then I am here to give you the right information and prepare you in every way.
The good news about growing crops is that you have 100% control over your investment. In other types of investments, other people make investment choices on your behalf. But, in growing crops in your farm, you decide the level of risk.

If I chose growing mangoes, how to I beat drought caused by climate change?

There is nothing better at tolerating dry weather like trees. They have long taproots, which go deep down into the soil to sip water. Trees are even found (palm trees) in deserts!
You are a witness; trees are often the last plants to die during dry weather, but they don’t go down without fighting a very long dry spells. Now, that makes the growing of trees a low risk, high profit investment.
So, there are about 3 tree crops that you could grow assure you of an income even during dry periods. These trees include macadamia, avocados and mangoes.
However, today let’s talk about the mango tree, whose fruit is regarded as the king fruit. Further, the tree has the ability to resist the driest weather and remain green.
For instance, this tree has never failed to produce fruit year after year even in dry weather, for the people of lower eastern Kenya, the coast region and the rift valley; areas that experience frequent drought.
In fact, during drought, people in these areas survive on the fruit as they wait for the weather to improve.
However, climate change has reduced the range of crops that could be suitable for that. Especially here, in Kenya, climate change has often devasted farmers.
But, that should not deter you from investing in farming. The fact that traffic accidents are on the increase does not deter you from driving or travelling. I am sure what you do is to take precaution.

What you need to succeed in mango growing

You need trees that are in production a proper marketing channel, and value addition strategies.
So how do you get to having trees that are in production? You need to grow mango seedlings in your farm and care for them until they start producing.
But, you just plant any seedlings. To maximize on the returns, reduce risk, there is a need to grow early, medium and late yielding varieties.

Now, let’s discuss the economics of mango production

One hectare accommodates 200 mango trees spaced at 8 M X 6 M. each plant covers an area of 40 M2 one tree can yield up to 1000-1200 fruits.
Here’s are some results of a study on appropriate plant spacing conducted in Brazil titled “Tommy Atkins mango trees subjected to high density planting in sub humid tropical in northeastern Brazil
“Treatments consisted of five spacial arrangements of plants (8x5 M, 6x3 M, 5x2 M, and 4x2 M which resulted in the following planting densities: 250(control), 357, 555, 1000 and 1250 plants per hectare. in general high density planting caused reduction in vegetative and reproductive variables of individual mango trees, but had little influence on fruit quality.

Above 555 plants per hectare, a significant decrease was observed in mango tree growth. furthermore there were decreases in the percentage of flowering, fruit yield per area. However,planting density up to 357 plants per hectare, increases fruit yield per area in comparison to the control (i.e. 250 plants per hectare)”
              Carlos Antônio et al
The research shows that you can grow up to 357 mango trees per hectare without affecting the quality of fruits. I would however recommend growing 200 trees per hectare so that you can reduce the  management costs of the orchard.
The Kenya agricultural institute (KARI) has brought in five of mango varieties from the USA. The varieties include Haden, Tommy Atkins, Van dyke, Sensation and Kent. They yield 1000 to 1200 fruits per tree.
The Standard, 31st March 2013
Kenyan farmers earn a fortune from mango

You may be thinking how can a single tree yield between 1000-1200 fruits. A tree normally produces fruit in twice in a year. that means it will produce between 500 to 600 fruits in a season.
Here is what a senior researcher is saying on when the mango trees get into production.
In the main production area, the Coast Province, two supply seasons can be differentiated. The first and main season runs from November to February and the second from June to August. In areas of higher altitude such as Murang'a and Mwea (Central Province), the harvest season is 4—6 weeks later than at the coast, with a peak in February and March.
Tony Simons,PhD
Principal Tree scientist
World Agroforestry Center

The characteristics of these varieties (grown for export) are listed below;
Valencia pride
This mid-season variety yields large, elongated fruits with good taste quality and excellent appearance. It is difficult to store and as such must be transported by air. This variety has a niche position on the export market

The fruit is oval, longer and flatter lengthwise than Kent. Its weight is highly variable, ranging from 500 grams to 1 kg, which is a shortcoming for the export market. It is a late variety; the fruits are attractive with a variable blush depending on the exposure to sunlight.

This variety, of unknown parentage, originates from Florida. The fruit is small to medium-sized (280-340 grams), deep red in color with a few spots of yellow. Its main quality is its relative tolerance to blackspot bacterial disease. This is a mid-season variety adapted to the cooler areas of the sub-tropical zone, e.g. some areas in South Africa.

The fruits reach maturity in the middle of the season. They are ovate, relatively large and generally weigh between 500 and 900 grams. The flesh is firm and has a pleasant taste. This mango matures very slowly and gradually.
Fruits that are harvested close to maturity can be stored for a long time at cool temperatures. The fruit's excellent sensory qualities, the firmness of its flesh and its gradual ripening are all equally attractive features to retailers.
Crop production protocol for mango (mangifera indica )

Here are some of the initial costs you are likely to incur when you decide to grow mangoes on one Hectare of land
Seedlings @ Ksh 200 x 200=
2nd Harrowing (if was virgin land)
Making 200 planting holes and actual planting @ Ksh 100
Manure 2 lorries @ Ksh 4,000
Ksh 172,000/=

Year Number of expected fruits per plant Income each fruit @Ksh15
a hectare has 200 plants
Cost of labor and other inputs like fungicides, weeding, pruning Net income Cumulative income

Transplanting of seedlings

The seedlings flower 5-6 months after transplanting. Remove flowers for the seedlings are too weak and young to support fruit.
Mango production starts in year 3. The break-even point comes in the 5th year, but it could come earlier if the mango orchard is inter-cropped with maize or other crops.

Is my area suitable for growing mangoes?

Well, it depends on the altitude of your area, and the amount of rainfall received. Mangoes prefer areas of moderate rainfall coupled with a dry season. A period of drought is necessary to stimulate flowering. Here is what experts say about suitable areas of growing mangoes.
Suitable altitudes for growing mango is between 100-1000 meters above sea level
The mango tree’s phenological cycle is strongly influenced by weather conditions. For mango trees to flower there must be a marked halt in growth. This occurs when there’s of a drop in average temperatures and/or a marked dry period.
Crop production protocol for mango (mangifera indica )

Where do i get suitable mango seedlings?

Mango seedlings cost Ksh 200 each, but don’t worry of the price of the seedlings. A seedling has the potential to develop into a tree and yield you Ksh 18,000 year after year starting from the fifth year after transplanting for 30 years!
I have a number of seedlings in my nursery, but i can’t promise to have them beyond August 10TH. This is because the seedlings are in high demand, and and the timeliness of your response matters so much!

How to order for seedlings

First you call me, and inform me where you intend to grow the mango seedlings. This is really important because mangoes can grow well in specific areas. This info will help me determine if your agro-ecological zone is suitable for growing mangoes.
If your area is suitable, and you’re ready to place an order, we meet, and discuss mode of payment, the details of delivery and any other terms we agree on.

Here is what you will get if you buy seedlings from me

  • Free technical advice on how to transplant mango seedlings to your field
  • Free technical advice on how to maintain the tree
  • Guidance on how to control pests and diseases of mango trees
  • Show you how to time your production for the market so that your mangoes reach the market when their demand high
Contact Haron Mogeni
today on Tel # 0715609418
Ps. Try growing mangoes today. Don’t let your farm lie idle yet it can mint you money. If you are able to sell the mangoes at 2 shillings more, you will see huge profits. Do the math for yourself.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Bad brokers, bad business: a story of conniving brokers at githurai 45 market

If you want to get more sales and more profit selling vegetables...
Then beware of the underhand dealings of brokers in fresh produce markets.
Let me teach you how to sell in fresh produce markets through brokers to the right clients, at the right price. What these customers need...
And the steps you need to take every day to succeed in selling fresh produce in markets around the Kenya.

Continue reading...
Dear hardworking farmer,
Do you often find the prices offered for your produce being too low, for you to recover the costs of production?
You want to earn more from your hard work, so you desire to sell to the right people and at the right price.
But, you find yourself surrounded by fresh produce market brokers, who gang up to buy your produce at a low price.
However, how do you find the right people who are willing to pay you the true value of your produce?
Should you avoid selling in open-air markets like Gikomba, Marigiti, Wakulima, Githurai, Korogocho market, and focus on selling to supermarkets?
Here is what research institutions found out, on the purchasing habits of consumers in Nairobi and other parts of the country.
Consumers in Nairobi follow a shopping pattern that is highly diversified across food groups. When asked where they shopped for food during the previous month, over 90% indicated that they had purchased at least one food item in three or more types of retail outlets.
This pattern is quite stable across income groups.
Between 80-90% of households visited an open-air market, a traditional duka, or a shop. Focusing on fresh produce, 72% visited an open-air market, and 56% a kiosk. Only 6% made fresh produce purchases in a supermarket chain.
Working paper 16- Tegemeo institute of Agricultural policy and development

Small-scale vendors (Mama Mboga) control 97 per cent of the highly profitable fruit and vegetable business. Supermarkets only control three per cent of the sales, mainly because of supply problems.
Anna Mutahi, Director
TNS RMS East Africa

Fact: you cannot avoid selling your produce in the open-air markets because that’s where the buyers are. Unfortunately, these markets are under the control of brokers, and that’s why you need to know how to handle the brokers.
So how will you win this struggle? In a bid to find answers to farmers complaints, many universities, Ngo’s and community-based organizations, have recommended this solution...
“Grow what the market wants, not what you think they want.”

Growing what the market wants means that you are in control, and the market will be willing to buy at your price. Today I’ll tell you of how I did just that, and made sizzling profit. I want to sharpen you so that you may be a knowledgeable farmer.
Let’s start with the first thing that you need to know.
The best time to get your produce the market is when there is a biting shortage.
How do you do that?
You should research on the best time to produce. Remember this important point, “the changes of season affect the production of every crop, either positively or negatively.”
Aim to produce when the season has negatively affected the production of a crop.

Here is a little story of what my market research yielded

Having done research on the selling price of kale and spinach in various markets around the country, I found out, the veggies would sell at a profit in the months of September through November.
Therefore, I planted kale and spinach at the beginning of August 2013 with the intent of selling the produce during the said months.
“My timing was perfect,” because the research pointed to a pattern of scarcity of the vegetables during the said months for the last 10 years.
Thus, the likelihood of making profit, selling the vegetables in the said months was sky-high.

Impact of unexpected change of weather

Kenya always has cool weather in the months of June to August. The cool weather, favors the production of vegetables of the Brassica family like kale, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts among others.
The cool weather extended to the month of October. The unexpected weather change helped other farmers, and I who were growing brassicas.
The cool weather meant that I would do less irrigation than originally planned. The change of weather resulted in an unanticipated boom harvest of kale, cabbage and spinach during the months of September to November.
The usual dry weather from September to November was a trump card that I hoped to draw to make more sales, and I was very successful.
This meant my customers could not but everything my farm produced, because of the bumper crop. “I had to go back to the drawing board, and think of a better way of selling the excess veggies.”

Here’s the plan of selling the excess vegetables

“To sell, the excess vegetables at Githurai 45 market,” was my plan. I had never taken any produce to the market, but I convinced myself the market is a free market, where the freedom of entry and exit exists.
I consulted some traders who informed me, “All you need to sell in the market, to pack the vegetables in gunnysacks, put them in a pick-up and arrive there by 5:00 am.”

Meeting face to face with brokers

When I got to the market, some people, whom I thought were customers, surrounded me. They asked me inquiringly, “How much do you sell a kilo of the vegetables?”
They offered to pay 10/= shillings per kilo of kale or spinach, a price that was two times lower, than what my regular customers offer me.
I did a quick calculation and realized that, I would earn 10,000 shillings, enough to recover all my costs but would make no profit.
A choice had to be made. To sell at the price, and I leave the market early for home, or stay put, and wait for better paying customers.
I chose the latter.
I came to understand later, the people who wanted to buy my veggies were brokers, looking for a quick buck.

A big mistake by a newbie

One thing you need to know, most brokers spend a lot of time in the market daily as they looking for business. It is easy to know farmers who are new to the market.
In my naivety, I committed a terrible blunder of forgetting my weighing scales at home. “How would I confirm the weight of kale or spinach that I sold to customers?” that was my agony.
My lack of weighing scales gave brokers an opportunity to fleece me. Some brokers offered to buy my vegetables, at the price of Shs. 25/= per kilo, but they insisted that I use their weighing scales.
I was relieved...
Little did I know the scales were, thieving scales! Every time a kilo I weighed a kilo of vegetables, another kilo was lost. The scales would weigh 2 kilos instead of one. Though I was suspicious of the amount weighed, there was no way I could verify my suspicions.
That brings me to the big question of business ethics in the fresh produce marketing in Kenya. It is apparent that, the city and municipal councils have abdicated their authority to brokers who conspire to trick hard working farmers and genuine traders.
Back to my story, by the time I finished selling, it had made a modest profit of Kshs. 7,000/= I could have made more were it not for the thieving weighing scales.

Here’s a summary on how to beat market brokers

clip_image001Aim to produce crops at times of scarcity.
clip_image001[1]Try selling directly to kiosk owners and mama mbogas and restaurants/hotels.
clip_image001[2]Conduct a pre visit to the market, a week before taking your produce to the market so that you find out the price trends of the produce you intend to sell.
clip_image001[3]Always carry a weighing scale for your produce, one that you can rely on.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

How to make more profits from your farm by growing lavender

Let me teach you how to grow lavender, sell it to the right customers at the right price, what these customers need... and the steps you need to take every day to succeed in growing lavender in Kenya right now!


Continue reading...


From the desk of Haron Mogeni,

Horticulturist and Farm manager,

Kiambu Prison farm

Dear hardworking farmer,

Are you searching for an alternative crop that is easy to manage, yields high profit, and is in high demand? You have always grown on your small farm crops like; maize, beans, kale, or potatoes yet the market prices of these crops don’t please you.

Welcome. You’ve landed at the right website. After hours of agonizing and backbreaking research, I have identified the perfect crop that is easy to manage, high in profit and demand.

It is a breakthrough opportunity and the timeliness of your response matters so much. After you complete reading this, you’d be left wondering why your farm is under other crops. In fact, you will lament how you’ve been losing huge profits.

You may be wondering if am qualified to make such a huge promise. Well, I am a graduate of horticulture from Egerton University. Currently a farm manager at Kiambu prison farm.

Therefore, What I’m telling you are not just stories, but things that I have done research on, and have practiced. Not to mention my 10 years experience in the agricultural field.

Farmers in Kenya and everywhere are finding it difficult to earn a living from their farm. This is because of the high costs of production and the stiff competition as they grow what everybody is growing.

Nevertheless, today I want to open your eyes and introduce you to a crop that people rarely consider. A kilo of its produce goes for Kenya shillings 3000/=. If you prefer counting your money in dollars, a kilo of its produce yields you $ 35.

This is the perfect crop for smallholder farms. You don’t need any experience to grow the crop. In fact, if you’ve ever grown any crop, then you are more than qualified to grow lavender.

All you need to know is how, to whom and where to sell this crop. But, don’t worry about that. By the time you finish reading this report, you will have all the skills needed to do just market lavender like a Guru.

Across Europe the demand for herbs is growing— in the UK, for example over the last decade there has been a large increase in people interested in home cookery and experimenting with culinary techniques and different cuisines, which has led to the demand for herbs.

The East African Fresh Produce Journal

Lavender is known to be one of the famous herbs with the fragrance of its dried flowers and from the oils refined from it. This is typically being use as perfumes, so growing lavender flowers, as a business is truly lucrative.

Start up biz hub

Question: I like growing herbs in my garden. Which do you recommend?

Answer: Lavender

Lavender has become increasingly popular as a herb for cooking and industry. The herb produces a perfume so admired that vast fields of lavender plants are grown in England, Provence, Tasmania and morocco to satisfy a worldwide demand for scented soaps, candles, skin lotions, and many products. A few sprigs clustered in a vase can fill an entire room with its romantic fragrance. Swirled in a bathtub, they will even scent the water.

Manjala Juluri, ASLA Landscape consultant and designer


First thing first: why grow lavender?

Lavender is a worthy crop to grow because of its perennial growing nature. This means its lifespan extends over 1 year. The implication of this is that you will harvest flowers year after year, without replanting it again.

Lavender plants can last for 10-15 years or longer if managed correctly.

K M Swanepoel and W G Alberts Department of Agriculture, University of Zululand

Second, lavender can grow over a wide range of altitude between 1000-1700 meters above sea level. The higher the altitude the better as the oil yields tend to increase with altitude. This is because the plant flowers more abundantly in cooler conditions.

Third, you will not worry about pests and diseases, which ravage most crops. However, the plant suffers from phytophora root rot if grown in poorly drained soils, or when overwatered. The plant grows well soils of low fertility.

Lavender ranks high as a sustainable crop because it does not rely on pesticides and fertilizers…


National sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Fourth, the selling price of lavender products is very high. To find the average prices of a kilo of dried lavender flowers, oil and fragrance, visit online shops like ebay, Amazon and Alibaba.

The prices range from $50-300, which in my opinion are enough to cover the cost of production and leave you with profit.

So, how and where do I start?

Start a nursery. Why do you need to start one? You are likely to face difficulties of getting sufficient planting for your farm. Therefore, you’ll need to multiply what you get.

Another reason for establishing a nursery is to save on costs. An acre requires 15,000-28,000 plants. Now let’s assume one seedling costs $2. That will mean on planting material alone you’ll have to spend $30,000- 56,000.

Establishing a nursery will allow you to save on costs of transport. This is because plant material is bulky in nature. Transporting the material for long distances will be expensive.

One more thing, the cost of planting material constitutes a great percentage of the overall cost of growing lavender. You also want to reduce the cost of planting material and the risk of loss. Thus multiplying your own planting material makes sense.

How to multiply your seedlings

Transplant the planting material you bought into a nursery. Allow it time say 3 months to establish itself, and become vigorous. You will need to take cuttings from the plants.

The best time to take cuttings from lavender is right after they have bloomed. Take cuttings from stems with no flower buds on them. Remove leaves from the bottom half of the cutting and insert it into well draining sterile potting soil or horticultural vermiculite.

Rooting hormone is not necessary. The cuttings should root in about 3 weeks. Transplant rooted cuttings into pots 2-4 inches in diameter. One the plants develop a vigorous root system transplant them to the farm.

Before transplanting the seedling into the farm, contact various restaurants, hotels, as they are the largest consumers of the herb.

Transplanting to the farm

Lavender is not competitive and does not respond well to weed pressure. Prepare the field during dry weather to kill all perennial weeds. You can apply pre-emergent herbicides so that the plants has a head start before weeds.

When planting (lavender agustifolia) or its cultivars, ensure planting material has been propagated vegetatively from cuttings, not started form seed so that you can have true to type plants.

When planting lavender as a crop, spacing depends on the size of the cultivars. Spacing ranges from 2-3 feet within the row and 3-6 feet between rows.


Lavender flowers on new growth. Therefore, prune the plants every year after it is established. Pruning should take place when green leaves start to emerge from the base of the plant.

Remove approximately one third of the top. The plant responds well to pruning. Pruning keeps the plant from splitting and becoming too woody.


Harvest the lavender stems in the morning hours when the oils are most concentrated and when approximately 50% of the flower buds have opened. Use a sickle or pruning shears to cut stems as long as possible.

Form bundles of 50-100 stems and bind them with rubber bands. Rubber bands will contract when the stems dry out. Dry the harvested lavender in a cool dark place where there is good air circulation.

Yields of lavender

An acre of true lavender (lavender angustifolia) produces from 150 to 900 kg of dried flowers and about 10 to 20 liters essential oil.

Marketing of lavender

You can market lavender other products in many ways i.e. as dried or fresh flowers, or processed products. Find local buyers like; hotels, marketing agents and companies from chemical and pharmaceutical, as well as food and flavoring industries. Before you start any production, conduct research on the local market of your produce. You can use social networking sites like Linkenld, Facebook, Google plus and other online forum to reach buyers.

International buyers are divided into flavor and fragrance houses, cosmetics and personal health care, aromatherapy and food manufacturers who buy in large quantities.

The major market in the world for essential oils is the United States, followed by Japan and Europe. However, production continues to be concentrated in Europe, with seven of the world’s largest essential oil processing firms.

In the United States, the major users of essential oils are the soft drink companies. Japan accounts for 10 % of the world demand. The Canadian market is dominated by the United States perfume and flavoring industry.

Monday, 12 November 2012


In summary

Supermarkets are becoming popular outlets of fresh fruits and vegetables because of their quality and safety measures and growing middle class that are ready to spend more.

A farmer who is targeting to sell his produce in a supermarket must understand its’ procurement procedures.

Huge chain supermarkets have contracted companies or have specialist procurement departments that source the produce on their behalf and are less likely to buy direct from farmers.

A farmer intending to sell to the big chains supermarkets may have challenges in assuring them consistency and quality.

Smaller supermarkets require small volumes of produce have less restrictions to direct purchase from farmers.

Procurement of fresh fruits and vegetables depends on size of supermarket, volume of demand, and its organizational structure.

Small supermarkets purchase their requirement from farmers (both contract and non contract or wholesale or retail markets.


Fruits and vegetables are consumed in Kenya when fresh; processing is restricted to the extraction of fresh juice and the drying of fruits and vegetables.

This means that a small fraction of the total production of fresh fruits and vegetables in the country is sold to processing industries.

A huge fraction is sold in traditional outlets i.e. Kiosks and open air markets which account for 80% of sales.

Some of the fresh produce is sold in supermarkets like Uchumi, Nakumatt, Tuskeys, Naivas, Kamindi, Cleanshelf, among others.

Open air markets/wet wholesale and retail markets provide competition to supermarkets as a substantial consumer base patronizes them for their convenient price and variety available.

Open air markets/wet wholesale and retail markets offer competitive prices, but are characterized by lower quality products and unhygienic conditions.

They thrive by serving the poor in the urban areas who visit them for their competitive prices and variety of produce available.

Changing quality and safety requirement of customers has made some of the big chain supermarket to shift to more specialization suppliers for their procurement needs and this has implications that will directly or indirectly affect final points at the farm level.

The highest consumption of processed fresh fruits and vegetables is in urban areas where incomes are higher and presence of tourists gives a drive for consumption.

Wakulima market is the main wholesale market in Nairobi serving retail markets in Nairobi like Kawangware, Gikomba, Toi, Kangemi, City Park and Korogocho.



The financial muscle of supermarkets enables them to import produce from South Africa and other east African countries when some fruits and vegetables are off season in Kenya.

Though some produce is imported from Uganda and Tanzania by traders in open air markets during off seasons, it does not take long before the off season sets in them.

That so as, Tanzania and Uganda lie in close proximity with Kenya; the equator passes though Uganda and Tanzania is a few degrees away from it.

Supermarkets have an edge in the business of importation as they can access distant markets and have highly trained procurement departments.


Small and independent supermarkets account for 25% of the supermarket share of fresh fruits and vegetables buy from brokers who get their goods from open or wet markets or directly from rural farms.

Large supermarkets prefer suppliers who guarantee quality, traceability, a steady supply of expected volume all year and consistent delivery times.

The aforesaid needs have made Fresh And Juici ltd wholly owned by Nakumatt to supply all its branches.

Nakumatt has a centralized procurement system for its Nairobi network with one supplier for horticultural produce who sources the produce from large to medium farms near Nairobi, 10% from small holder farmers.

Uchumi has a centralized purchasing for its branches in Nairobi. After purchasing, the vegetables are distributed to the branches within Nairobi. For some of its stores, especially those in small towns they purchase directly from farmers and traders.

There are 4 large institutional suppliers and 10 small ones who have emerged due to more stringent demand on quality by supermarkets. They include Mugoya grocers, Zucchini vegetables shop and Fresh and Juici


A large percentage of the households in the Nairobi and other towns purchase fruits and vegetables from retail markets like kiosks and kibandas around their homes.

This is soon changing as more and more people are buying fresh fruits and vegetables from supermarkets.

This is so as supermarkets are quality conscious, have a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year and the growing middle class in the country prefers to shop in them rather can visit grimy and overcrowded markets.

Supermarkets have started laying stringent safety and quality standards for foodstuff with some of the produce being labeled with producer identification for purposes of traceability.

Supermarkets as outlets of produce are likely to causing fundamental structural changes in the produce supply chains as they taking away market share from kiosks, open air markets and kibandas.

Though Wholesale and open markets still remains the most important outlet for fruits and vegetables in Kenya, the supermarkets are becoming vicious competitors.

Supermarkets emphasize on quality, variety and reliability, traceability and consistent supply of produce.

These conditions can’t be met when purchases are made at Wholesale and open markets.

There is real fear that direct supplies from small holder farmers may dwindle due to these stringent demands and also spatial scattered nature of these producers that raise transactions costs especially transport and time.

Friday, 9 November 2012


 A farmer invests time, money and labor in his farm with the aim of making profit and personal satisfaction.

His assumption is, if the weather is conducive and pests don’t destroy his crops or diseases kill his animals he will recover his input and make profit.

He has a basket of options to choose from— crops or animals that he will plant or keep so as to minimize his risk and maximize his profit.

He must undertake a detailed examination of the profitability of individual enterprises and of the farm system as a whole in the evaluation process.

‘There are no quick fixes available to improved farm profitability every item must be carefully considered if it’s worth keeping’

This process of evaluation involves the under mentioned process


It is not easy to assess the efficiency and profitability of an enterprise without comparing it to available standards.

Since extension services unavailable in Kenya, the only starting point for comparison of is the best practice norms or benchmarks.

As you compare your farms enterprises with those from other farms you will know whether you are utilizing the full potential of your farm or not.

For example, if you own dairy cattle, you may compare their productivity those from a research center.


The prices of farm produce are unpredictable resulting to uncertainty about the correct price to use for most produce.

During accounting, items are valued at production cost. A milk producer will therefore record the price of fuel, fertilizer and seed as being a maize production cost in his accounting system.

If he wants to determine the profitability of his dairy enterprise he will use the price he can get for the maize less marketing cost.

In other words, the maize enterprise sells maize to the dairy enterprise at market related price.

This principle widely used where related companies sell services to each other at market related values.


A good financial record keeping system is a pre-requisite for profitability.

A profitable farm system should be evaluated by looking at the bottom line or net disposable income which is the amount of money a farmer can put in his pocket.

To increase the net disposable income, first step is to increase the gross margin, that achieved by looking at all the enterprises to save on variable expenses.

Variable expenses are those that vary with the quantity produced such as seed and fertilizer, however, reducing them normally results in lower production and earnings.

Secondly, a farmer should increase his technical efficiency. His decisions will be important in the efficient and correct use of variable inputs to result in the maximum gross margin.

Finally, prices vary between suppliers so, efficient purchasing management is necessary.


Re-evaluate all overhead costs and get new quotations for services.

Labor should therefore be managed efficiently as possible. It is possible to save by negotiating interest rates with credit suppliers.

Careful management of creditor accounts can also save interest and ensure you use the full interest free period provided by suppliers.

The purchase of capital equipment should be limit to what you can afford.


Nonfarm income plays an important role in balancing the books. During good years, invest money off the farm and build a sizable investment portfolio that will provide necessary income especially during bad farming.

Always keep household expenses under control. Improved fiscal performance is the result of detailed analysis of farm business both on the level of a single enterprise and the farms overall performance.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


maize plantation There are many investment opportunities in the agricultural industry; among them is green maize farming.

This type of farming is different, as the farmer sells the maize while it is at the mature green stage.

Green maize is popular in Kenya; it’s cooked with beans to produce a popular meal known as githeri or it’s eaten roasted.

It has been estimated that an acre of maize costs a farmer 20,000-20,000 to produce. Once the maize is at the mature green stage, brokers/middlemen buy the crop at a cost 35,000-40,000 shillings per acre.

This means that a farmer will make a profit of 15,000-20,000 per acre. The broker takes care of all costs of harvesting, packing and transporting the maize.

When the maize is left to dry so that it is sold for flour production, one acre can produce 20 to 30 ninety kilogram bags.

A bag of dry maize is priced at 2,500-2,800 shillings. This means that a farmer is likely to earn between 50,000 to 84,000 shillings.

He will however incur the costs of harvesting, shelling, drying the maize, storage and treating the maize to guard against weevils.

All the aforementioned costs will eat into his profit and it is likely that the profit he will make will be lower than if he sold his maize at the green stage.

Dilemma facing potential investors

Growing green maize in Kitale seems like a worthy investment as the environment favors maize production, the soils are fertile, and the price of green maize is high at 3000 shillings for a 115-kilogram bag.

Unfortunately, most investors are greenhorns; they are not aware of the complexities in farming, land tenure and marketing green maize.

Here is what you require as an investor:

1. Land to hire or lease if you don’t own any

2. Tilling the Land, first harrow, and second harrow

3. Hire a planting machine

4. Weeding by laborers or control weeds through herbicides.

5. Spraying by tractor for pests and diseases

6. Harvesting by hand or machine

7. Transporting the maize from the farm to the market

8. Have a storage facility

A table showing the cost of some farm operations in Kitale


Cost in shillings per acre


Hiring land






1st Harrowing



2nd Harrowing



Hybrid seeds



Weeding by tractor spraying (this is what you will pay the owner of the tractor)

1,000(does not include the cost of herbicides and water)


Spraying pests and disease using a tractor

1,000(does not include the cost of pesticide/fungicide and water)


Harvesting by hand



Transporting produce to the market

(This cost varies from farmer to farmer depending on his target market)


Total cost of input per acre

25,000 (approximate cost)


The ideal acreage if you intend to go commercial is 30 plus acres. To break even, you must have a minimum of 20 acres.

Commercial maize farming gets juicier as the cost of inputs comes down considerably with increased acreage.

If you are planting 100 acres and over, the best option is to buy a second hand tractor valued at 800,000-1,000,000 shillings.

To illustrate this point, the inputs required for one acre is estimated at 15,000 shillings thus 100 acres will cost 1.5 million shillings.

40% this costs of goes to the owner of the tractor; if you own the tractor, your costs will be reduced by a huge margin.

Furthermore, you will earn more when the tractor works for other small-scale farmers.


Lease the land for a reasonable period for example 3-4 years. This will allow you to recoup your investments when the crop fails or the weather is not acting as expected.

You need to lease land in a secure area without many environmental challenges and communication that may pose high management and labor costs.

Avoid leasing land near wildlife sanctuaries, game parks and transit corridors as most of your production will be lost to them.

Securing one parcel of land that is over 30 acres is difficult and you are prone to fraudsters.

You need to conduct due diligence to and it’s important that you consult a lawyer to advice you on the terms of the lease.


You need to employ a trustworthy person to supervise the farm operations if you are operating from far.

The employee should be one who understands when and how to plough, harrow, and conduct any other essential operations, without these, you are liable to huge losses.


A farmer engaging in this type of farming can get losses in the following manner;

When the maize of the entire farm matures at the same time, say 100 acres- this will lead to surplus production. This affects supply and demand leading to low prices being offered for the produce.

This can be solved by planting different portions of the farm with early maturing, middle maturing and late maturing varieties.

Another reason that may lead to losses is when the crop in a single field does not have uniform growth or maturity. The solution for this is to buy certified seed from a credible dealer.


Walking tractor/hand held motorized plow Hand held motorized tractors have been touted as a solution for plowing small farms in Africa.

The low cost of these machines seems attractive to small scale farmers.

This is good news, as farmers in Africa and other developing nations have been using hoes or ox-driven plows for centuries.

The purpose of this article is to discuss the perceptions on the performance, practicability and cost of this machine.


When farmer tills his land using a hoe, the maximum area he can plow in a day is an eighth of an acre when he is working alone and the soils are friable.

Where the soils are hard and clayey in nature, the area that a single farmer can plow using a hoe is less than an eighth an acre.

On the other hand, when an ox-driven plow is used, he can plow at-least half an acre per day, similarly when a tractor used, more than 6 acres can be plowed depending on the power of the tractor.

In an effort to address some of the challenges facing small farmers, engineers developed small hand held tractors commonly known as walking tractors.

This innovation has elicited great interest in the farming community and traders who want to promote their use as the equipment seem affordable, practicable, reliable and cost effective.


Farmers are interested in the experiences of those who are currently using the machines so that they can make an informed choice.

These experiences are on; the cost, performance, lifespan, maintenance cost, consumption of fuel per acre, and on the availability of spare parts of walking tractors.

However this information is not available as very few farmers are using the machine and they rarely share their experiences.


These machines are popular in countries like India, China, Korea and Turkey where they are used in plowing paddy fields.

Information does not exist indicating the first country to use this type of tractor, but their use is widespread in China, South Korea and Turkey.

However this technology is new to Africa, few farmers own them and have reported mixed experiences as they use them.


There are a number of shops at river-road Street and industrial area in Nairobi that sell these machines. The prices range from 180,000-200,000 shillings.

The reason for the variance is the origin of the engine, its horsepower and the profit margin a particular vendor is targeting.

The models available in Kenya are imported from china and India with very few coming from turkey there are some that are assembled locally by Jomo Kenyatta University of agriculture and technology.


No studies have been conducted in Kenya on the performance of various models under different soil conditions.

The available information is from the personal experiences of people who are using or have used such tractors.

It is therefore difficult to draw credible conclusions on the performance of the machines. For instance, it has been claimed that, it’s possible to plow 2 acres in a day using these tractors.

My personal experience is contrary to this claim, doing even ¼ of an acre is difficult and unhealthy.

Most of the models turned either left or right using levers during plowing. Turning the tractor either left or right is an energy sucking job that makings it impossible for one, two or three person to plow 2 acres in a day!

Secondly, the design of the tractor is such exhaust pipe of the engine is at top of the tractor. This means that if there some wind dangerous diesel fumes will be blown to your face which may cause health problems with extended use of the machine.

“I worked with a 35 HP walking tractor, handling the tractor was so difficult, the vibrations from the engine were powerful, I could feel the vibrations all the way to my spine” “I had to stop using for the sake of my health,” quips Eliud, a farmer in Busia County!